The Fiat 500e, Fiat’s first and only electric car to date, has been recalled to fix a fault with its high-voltage inverter system, one which could leave owners stranded at the side of the road with no power in the event of failure.
Based on the popular gasoline version of the Fiat 500 microcar, the 500e has been given rave reviews by most who have driven it but is only sold in limited markets in the U.S. as a compliance car. (For those unfamiliar with the term, that’s a vehicle built and sold in limited numbers to satisfy legislation in California and several other states who mandate automakers produce a minimum number of zero emissions cars in order to sell other cars in the state.)
According to an official statement made by FCA last week, the fault lies in the power inverter module (PIM) in an estimated 4,141 Fiat 500e cars in the U.S., made between September 24, 2012 and April 4, 2014. The problem appears to stem from a leaking coolant system — which FCA calls ‘coolant seepage’ — which could result in coolant leaking onto parts of the PIM’s electronics system, resulting in short circuits.
Fiat says it is aware of five incidents in which coolant seepage has caused a short circuit within a PIM, resulting in loss of power to a customer’s car. It is not aware of any accidents or injuries sustained as a consequence of this problem, however.
This is the second recall for the all-electric Fiat in less than a year. Last summer, Fiat recalled the 500e to fix a problem with the 500e’s transmission system in which bolts attaching the half shafts to the differential were failing, leaving the cars without any drive.
Fiat says it will of course replace the PIM for free under warranty for all affected cars, and will contact owners shortly.
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